Saturday, February 20, 2010
Friday, February 19, 2010
I hereby take it all back in recognition of Hank Ketcham Inc.'s acknowledgment that women can hit their children in the head with potentially blunt objects just as well as men can.
Not exactly hard hitting stuff, but mostly true. Except maybe for the whole "Isn't Bill Watterson amazing for not licensing his characters!" thing you hear about all the time. I fully respect Watterson for sticking to his principles, but, look, a comic strip--like art in general--is a commercial enterprise. While I'm always up for a little Garfield bashing--and to be sure, this shit here is pretty heinous--Jim Davis "selling out" hasn't actually change the quality of the comic strip. Garfield isn't mediocre because its title character has appeared on lunch boxes. It's mediocre because Davis rarely pushes at the bounds of the thin premise Martell so accurately describes. And Calvin and Hobbes, meanwhile, isn't any less great because of all those dumbass, unlicensed decals you see in the back windows of pickup trucks.
The strip's authenticity is secured by Watterson's refusal to sell out. He didn't become a cartoonist for the attention, the accolades or the money. He just wanted to create the best comic strip possible. As he once wrote in the introduction to a Krazy Kat collection, "[W]e seem to have forgotten that a comic strip can be something more than a launch pad for a glut of derivative products. When the comic strip is not exploited, the medium can be a vehicle for beautiful artwork and serious, intelligent expression." So, instead of embracing the fame his work afforded him over the years, he gave only a handful of interviews, rarely appeared in public and maintained a very modest lifestyle. He was equally withholding of his creations, whom he never allowed to be merchandised. There were no Hobbes dolls, no Spaceman Spiff action figures and no coffee mugs with Calvin and Hobbes one-liners splashed across them. Considering that all his peers were cashing in on their creations – Charles Schulz (Peanuts) and Jim Davis (Garfield) each earned tens of millions of dollars a year at the height of their fame – it was a tack that was as admirable as it was confounding.
Readers may have never thought about Watterson's personal choices when they read the strip, but that strength of character echoed throughout his work. Calvin and Hobbes is complex, thoughtful and thought provoking. Calvin and Hobbes aren't plastic and one-dimensional, like so many of their contemporaries on the funny pages whose creators strove to make them explicable in a single sentence. Garfield is a fat, lazy cat who loves to eat and give his owner grief. Beetle Bailey is an inept and lazy army private who is forever running afoul of his superiors. That's all you need to know to laugh at either of those characters (and lazy is the operative word here). Now we come to Calvin and Hobbes – a hyper-imaginative kid and his pet tiger who may or may not be real, depending on who's looking at him. But that's just the surface. That doesn't really begin to explain Watterson's unique storytelling device in which readers switch between the world as Calvin sees it – a fantastical place – and as adults see it – a cut 'n' dried conventional reality. You need to immerse yourself in Calvin and Hobbes to truly understand it. Sure, you could read one strip, get the gag and move on with your life, but you'd be missing out.
Thursday, February 18, 2010
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
In any event, this comic is hilarious because old people hate television and children love it.
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
She will use this to destroy him.